I am Longing. At the edge of the garden, that first garden, I made my home with you. Grief rolled in waves down your cheeks as you looked back one more time to the place of belonging and wholeness you were denied. I dried your eyes. While you slept I whispered promises of restoration until the air sang a new harmony that sounded like hope.

I am Longing.

In the soul of the nation.

In the breath of the prophets.

In the scriptures and stories.

You grew tired of waiting and tried to expel me from your home. You don’t even recognise me anymore. You mistake me for Hurt and lash out at anyone who doesn’t heal you. You mistake me for Loneliness, and so move the people around in your life like furniture, as if the right combination will finally make me disappear. You mistake me for Disappointment and so take control of your life and everyone else around you.

But I am Longing.

I turn your stomach sour at the thought of where you are and hang a framed picture of promise of some unknown, impossible place that will dissolve your sleepless nights and endless days into realities so perfect, so unimaginable. The painter of it dipped his brush in joy to wash the sky and carved out peace across the earth.

I am Longing

In the girl who believed what God had said to her.

In the wise men who studied and searched the stars.

In the heart of the shepherds who got up day after day to do the same thing all over again.

I am Longing, more than anything, in the baby born that day. His longing was as the one who could make the pictures come to life, not as in a dream, but life more real than you have ever felt before. His longing was for you. I followed him to the grave and back again. He restored the home built for you, where you don’t just hear about belonging but can be filled with it again; where you aren’t in search of the pieces of yourself you lost along the way but are complete.

I am Longing. He made me his companion, and I followed him to you.

if i give you me, would it be enough?

11012191_975360895858913_6670742371155085826_nWhile handing out Christmas cards to friends in the community this week I was told, “Most people are only lovely at Christmas, but you are lovely all the time.” I was a bit tongue-tied as I wasn’t expecting a response like that when I was just passing through on my way home. I had those cards printed and signed for people in my life I wanted to bless with prayers of peace this season. I wasn’t really supposed to figure into their thoughts at all apart from them feeling loved and appreciated. Those words stopped me and turned my thoughts to the gifts we give people.

What if the best gift I could really give people is me? What if the best gift you could really give someone is you? These aren’t vulnerability questions. They are value questions.

What are you worth? You, with all your quirky likes and dislikes. You, with all the unique talents you possess that you don’t even think others would want to know about? Your smile. Your laughter. Your forgiveness. Your friendship. Your love. Your hospitality. Your handshake. Your kindness.

What are others worth to you? Him, with all his quirky likes and dislikes. Her, with all the unique talents she possesses. His smile. Her laughter. His forgiveness. Her friendship. His love. Her hospitality. His handshake. Her kindness.

Although I absolutely love the festiveness of the season we are in, those celebrations have very little to do with another event that lives in the depths of my soul. God gave us him.

“All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’ (which means ‘God with us’).” (Matthew 1:22-23 … an explanation during Joseph’s inner turmoil about finding out about Mary’s pregnancy)

If I didn’t believe in Jesus I would still keep the Christmas traditions. We don’t exactly have too many feast & festivity dates on our calendar and I am convinced that we need them to help build healthy societies, even if they aren’t for spiritual purposes. I am also convinced that we could all do with at least a little of God with us, even at that moment when he seems so small and insignificant – a baby, a promise. The King of kings. Love incarnate. Prince of peace. Everlasting father. Saviour of the world. God with us … If there is any loveliness in me throughout the year it is because I walk with him and he makes me complete. I give you me because he gave me him. I took him up on the offer.

What gifts can we give that will last this year? What gifts will we recognise and accept from others?

caught up in this white-out, called peace

PeaceThe world goes silent as streets and gardens and fields are insulated under a thick layer of white. The first intricate clusters of snowflakes bring promise of silence, of a sort of temporary peace on earth where sounds are muffled into the pockets of air reserved to capture and hold all indication of chaos.

I dream of snow.

It is a white duvet of purity that slows down the speed of life, halting us in this moment, this place, these four walls. At the moment when movement becomes impossible, it presents a blank canvas of possibility. The world looks perfect draped in robes of glistening diamante of temporary splendor. A reverent hush subdues the noise of silence in the immediate settling of it. It is peace come to earth.

I dream of peace.

It is a hush whispering over the soul. Chaos is caught up between its particles and, for once, we are stilled and silenced long enough to really see the beauty of this present moment without removing us from it. It is gentle as it falls in a storm where white is all you see, purity is what you see. Gone are the thoughts that have set up false expectations wrapped in cheap, brightly coloured plastic. Gone are the images of everything we do not have, cannot have. Satisfaction is found here in our present relationships, in what we have and the warmth we share.

Welcome the peace. Invite it to come. Do not fear it. Let it bring promise of possibility. Let it still you.

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
    there will be no end.

Isaiah 9:6-7


christmas gifts on a budget

The post-by-date to get things to Canada came way too quickly this year. I saw it as I zoomed past on my way towards dreams. I was traveling too fast to slow down. For the first time, online gifts that someone else would package and post seemed like one of the best inventions ever. What a different story from a few years ago when our family decided to share gifts that were handmade or pre-loved. The most memorable gifts for me don’t have a price tag attached to them though. They have a person. Regardless of how much money is in the bank there are ways to give meaningful gifts that will have a longer lasting effect than a package from Amazon. Suddenly I feel very rich! Rich enough to give to more people then I could have imagined over the season. Here are the gifts that I can afford:

1. Gifts from my talents – My hoover sits out in my hall … it has been for a week! I keep waiting for a down time when my kitchen or sewing room (a.k.a. office, living room, spare bedroom, dining room) doesn’t have a project actively underway. The things that I produce in those two places are the gifts of my talents. My hands are busy making something to give or to share with others. They are my workshops. These usually still cost money for materials but are far less money because I put in the labour.

2. Gifts from my heart – We have a Christkindl (white elephant) gift exchange planned for a Christmas-Hannukah celebration I will be at a couple days after arriving in Zurich for the holidays. It is also in celebration of a mother and friend who passed away a couple of years ago. We are limited to how much money we are allowed to spend but we are to buy something that reminds us of her. The gifts we give will be gifts from the heart – something that stirs up emotion because of the relationship we had and the relationships we still have with the people who will be in that room.

3. Gifts from the Spirit – All of who Christ is in me. All that he has placed in me, mined out and polished to bring blessing to others. These are the gifts from the Spirit. They generally don’t cost me anything except the vulnerability of giving them as a gift. They are accepted and possessed in places even deeper then we could imagine and shape not only how we feel but our entire view of ourselves and the world. They are fully infused with the most pure essence of love because they come from Love.

There are no receipts attached to these that will work for a refund. The price is far too high because pieces of us are in these gifts. They can’t come from Santa Clause or any other magical gift giver from any other tradition. We can’t measure if someone spent the same amount on us. They are gifts that are given because we love. 2013-12-22 15.35.34-2

passing under the christmas lights

20141202-151639-54999298.jpgThe lights and decorations canopying the streets throughout the city have been turned on for over a week now. Chandeliers and garlands twinkle over shoppers. Shop displays create fairytale landscapes of frost and snow. Mince pies, Christmas cakes, mulled wine, brie cheese and cranberries become more and more tempting by the day. An extravagant season is upon us infusing the cold, dark winter with a month promising warmth, luxury, joy and hope.

Nollaig Shona Duit

That’s what Baile Átha Cliath is wishing us to all over the city! Isn’t that just so lovely … an Irish greeting at Christmas? Without translation it enters the ambiguous realm of “peace on earth, good will towards men” that angels sing. Both greetings create a sense of festivity and comfort – words that can be repeated without a heart knowledge and yet resonate as good things to say. At any other time of year, without the help of all things glittery, they might not make sense without having them tucked away in the heart somewhere. But in December they come alive!

Peace on earth – it isn’t a pretty line invented to be used once a year in a world wide appeal for a global community that cares for one another. Good will towards men – it isn’t a statement of moral conscience. They are declarations of what God, and God alone, can do when he comes and lives with us. It is the reason for a Happy and Merry Christmas. Christ has come to bring peace and do good for us and in us.

A sense of “home” comes when these words take on a heart meaning. We are no longer tourists passing under the Christmas lights.